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REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3×14 “Watchdogs”

For those of us who were upset about the lack of Mack in the episode prior to last week’s bittersweet, “Parting Shots,” the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has made up for it in leaps and bounds. “Watchdogs,” could have just as easily been called, “Little Mack & Alfie,” considering as much, if not more, screen time was given to the relationship between the Mackenzie brothers as was given to the frightening new group looking to take out powered, “freaks.”

“Watchdogs,” felt a bit like an episode meant to slow things down and give the characters, as well as viewers, time to process the fact that Bobbi and Hunter are no longer around. While there was definitely some action towards the close of the episode, it predominantly served as a means of providing back-story for Mack, linking the Watchdogs to Hydra, and reminding viewers that Lash is still running amok.

Spoilers ahead!

The predominant focus of the episode was on the introduction of the mysterious Watchdogs that were very briefly mentioned earlier in the season. The group is rife with anti-powered people whose goal is to rid the world of the substantial number of Inhumans, freaks as referred to by the Watchdogs, that have emerged.

After a local cell of the radical group takes out an ATCU compound, poor Mack is forced to cut his motorcycle-fixing session with his brother short and join Fitz and Daisy in figuring what the Watchdogs’ next move is… and who the mysterious face behind them is. As it turns out, said mysterious face is former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Blake, whose Watchdogs were essentially born out of a personal vendetta to seek vengeance on the powered people that left him bound to a wheelchair.

What was interesting about this episode is the fact that the internal darkness that Coulson has been grappling with over the season seems to have transferred to his young protégé. Despite having the Cavalry as an SO, Daisy has yet to learn how to put her personal feelings aside while running missions. Disgusted by the Watchdogs for their perception of Inhumans, and frustrated by the lack of information on them, Daisy decides to go off-book and use her powers to intimidate one of the small players into talking.

She drags a hesitant Fitz along with her, going against Mack’s request to keep things on the straight and narrow, and manages to shatter enough glass to get a lowly Watchdog to tell her where the radical group’s meetings take place. The gang manages to get eyes and ears on the meeting but chaos ensues when Mack’s brother rolls up, making an absurd amount of noise on his motorcycle, and draws attention to the group. Daisy manages to take a few Watchdog lackeys out with her powers but Fitz gets hit with a bomb that fuses to his neck and is set to go off VERY SOON.

Thanks to some quick thinking by Fitz, and some more intimidation of a Watchdog by Daisy, the duo figures out how to remove the bomb before it detonates and causes poor Fitz to implode. UNFORTUNATELY, the quick thinking is still slow enough for all of the other Watchdogs to head over to the Mackenzie residence to take out its inhabitants. In a terrible case of mistaken identity, the radical group thinks that it’s Mack who’s the Inhuman and raid his house with the intention of killing their first, “powered freak.”

Of course, Mack is a gargantuan individual with brains as big as his biceps and he manages to take out the five Watchdogs on the Mackenzie property with relative ease. Sure, he takes a bullet to the arm in the process, but he also finally gets to use his coveted shotgun-axe.

While all of this is going down, poor Lincoln is facing yet another test from Coulson, who’s still uncertain of the Inhuman’s loyalty. And while Lincoln is forced to prove himself as a trustworthy ally, Jemma is attempting to prove that she’s capable of defending herself without the help of anyone else. Still wracked with guilt over Will’s death, Fitz’s innate instinct to sacrifice himself for her, and releasing Lash to save her own skin, Jemma is familiarizing herself with the S.H.I.E.L.D. arsenal… much to May’s contained worry. Melinda assures the younger agent that she isn’t responsible for Lash’s actions and the two decide to team up to hunt him down and prevent him from doing any more damage.

“Watchdogs,” was another fine episode of television. A bit slower than its predecessor, due largely in part to the scenes between the Mackenzies, it was an hour of television that essentially served to show how those outside of various underground government organizations are reacting towards the insurgence of powered individuals.

Interestingly, “Watchdogs,” felt a bit more like the earlier episodes of S.H.I.E.L.D. The dynamics are continuously shifting but this week was almost like a flashback to the characters we were first introduced to. Daisy is fueled by her emotions, Fitz is back to muttering sarcastic quips whenever presented with the chance, Jemma is attempting to be as pragmatic as possible, Coulson’s dry dad humor is back, and Mack is back to being a bit wary of S.H.I.E.L.D. in general.

The mysteries are growing now that we know that the Watchdogs are yet another group in Malick’s pocket, and it seems as though the show is really gearing up to reveal HiveWard in a way that will cause as much shock as possible to Coulson and Co. As far as S.H.I.E.L.D. is concerned, Lash is the most dangerous Inhuman out there, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the gang come to the harsh realization that Dr. Garner is really the least of their Inhuman worries.

Episode Grade: B-

Episode Highs:

  • Now that resident comic Hunter is gone, it looks as though Fitz might be returning to his comedic roots. It was refreshing seeing the Scottish scientist without the cloud of doom, gloom, and angst looming over him. Fitz is hilarious, something that is easily forgotten considering the trauma he’s dealt with over the years, and I hope to see some more of his wry humor (at least sporadically) as the season progresses.
  • The May & Simmons bonding. Perhaps the only person who can really understand where Jemma is at mentally is Agent May and it’s about damn time that both women are being given the opportunity to speak about their feelings of guilt with someone who is fully empathetic.

Episode Lows:

  • I love the fact that we got some more Mack back-story but my god his brother is the worst. There’s nothing more irksome than allegedly intelligent people being complete idiots and having to watch Mack’s brother whine about the fact that “Alfie” does nothing and then proceed to almost get everyone killed by sheer obliviousness was painful.

Additional Thoughts:

  • What the heck do Malick, Hive, and Hydra need with that bomb?
  • With only 9 episodes left, how many do you think remain until the S.H.I.E.L.D. team comes face to previously-believed-to-be-dead face with HiveWard?

What did you think of, “Watchdogs,” and how do you think this newest adversary might impact those at S.H.I.E.L.D? Sound off on Twitter or in the comments below!

 

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen